would you say if I said you could radically reduce the incidence
of Alzheimer’s, anorexia, asthma, arthritis, forms of cancer,
Creutzfeist-Jacob disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, forms of
depression, many food allergies, Gulf War Syndrome, forms of heart
disease, muscular dystrophy (MS), Parkinson’s and many other diseases
of the brain and muscular system? Mounting evidence shows this
list of debilitating and deadly conditions may very well be linked
to the use of one group of chemicals called organophosphates (OP).
the catch? OPs are found in many of the items we use in and
around our homes as well as much of the food we eat. The sales
of OPs are actually BIG business to some of the most powerful
companies in the world—the agro-chemical and pharmaceutical companies.
to wonder if parallels exist between OPs and the tobacco industry,
like the whistle blowing portrayed in the movie The Insider?
Well…..you just might be right. Only we are now at the pre-Hollywood
stage; the blowers are just starting to find their whistles.
sifting through a mountain of information on OPs I can at least
give you a good thumb nail of the OP situation and how it may
be affecting you. Author’s Warning: This may very well
be the second largest threat to global welfare (second only to
a nuclear holocaust), the ingredients for multiple—dare I say
the word—conspiracies, and the beginnings of a Hollywood blockbuster
plot all rolled into one.
sky is not falling and my name is not, nor has it ever been Chicken
Little, so let’s continue on a rational path with an old journalism
stand-by, by answering the following questions:
What is an organophosphate?
When were OPs introduced and Why
are they used?
How do OPs affect your brain and
Who is at risk to OP exposure and
Where do the risks come from?
What is an organophosphate?
term organophosphate (OP) describes a group of compounds containing
the organic substance of carbon, the major mineral phosphorus
and additional chemicals, depending on the specific compound.
on its own, one of the most numerous minerals in our body, occurs
naturally and is essential for life in humans, plants and animals.
Accounting for 20% of the body’s mineral ash, phosphorus is spread
throughout every cell. By bonding with proteins, fats and salts,
and most heavily concentrated in bones and teeth, phosphorus is
a welcome and needed resident in the human body.
combined with carbon and other materials like fluorine, cyanide,
sulfur and a host of others, the OP compound is deadly. OPs are
manufactured and used the world over as pesticides, some herbicides,
and military applications of nerve gas. Let me reiterate, nerve
gas, as in chemical warfare, as in deadly. According to the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approximately 77 million
tons of OPs are applied each year in the U.S.
When were OPs
introduced and Why are they used?
some debate revolves around when OPs were first created, most
sources point to sometime between 1938-1944 as the birth of OP
nerve gas created by the Nazis who had planned to use it in World
War II. As the story goes, at the closing of WW II, Allied troops
discovered the Nazi’s factory where the nerve gas Sarin and some
2,000 other OP nerve gases had been synthesized. By 1955, after
researching the OP nerve gases, scientists discovered OPs to be
effective insecticides in addition to their warfare applications.
OP insecticides were deemed highly effective as broad-spectrum
insecticides, able to be used on many crop types to control a
variety of insects with one type of OP insecticide. The insects
seemed unable to develop a resistance to the OP insecticides.
In addition, OPs are relatively inexpensive in terms of monetary
cost. As research continued on OPs, they continued to evolve into
more and more insecticides, fungicides, anti-bacterials, larvicides,
rodent pesticides, some herbicides, and more powerful chemical
How do OPs affect
are a known toxin to the central nervous system. The toxin is
believed to be able to by-pass the body’s defense systems of the
epidermis, liver, kidneys, glades, etc. because the body readily
accepts the phosphorus base of the compound as a needed mineral
in almost every one of its cells. Once accepted, the OP forms
covalent bonds to acetylcholine (ACh). ACh transmits messages
between nerve cells and from motor neurons to muscles cells (including
organ muscle cells) through electrochemical impulses effectively
altering the polarity of the nerve cells. By bonding to the ACh,
OP effectively prevents the disconnection of the message ACh is
delivering to the nerve cell. Normally acetylcholinestrase (AChE)
enzyme or cholinesterase (ChE) enzyme would decompose ACh through
hydrolysis, repolarizing the nerve cells back to the way it was
before ACh arrived with the message.
example, if the neurotransmitter ACh has told your eye to twitch
and AChE and ChE cannot decompose the message, your eye will continue
to twitch until the OP is hydrolyzed. In the case of certain
OP bonds, the OP cannot by hydrolyzed, prolonging ACh’s message
for a period of days or weeks until the AChE or ChE enzymes are
able to finally hydrolyze the ACh neurotransmitter message. In
this way OP can exhaust or even “burn out” nerve cells and the
muscles and functions they control.
neurotransmitters send messages to a vast amount and variety of
nerve cells in your body including the salivary glands, mucosal
glands, stomach, spleen, bladder, liver, sweat glands, blood vessels,
and heart. ACh messages are also responsible for memory and emotion
functions, respiratory function, blood pressure, and functions
effects of ACh bonded to OP can be as mild as light headaches,
a momentary blurring of vision, and tearing. Moderate effects
could include vertigo, decreased or increased heart rate and blood
pressure, bronchial constriction and respiratory distress. At
lethal doses, as proven with nerve gases, OP can cause death through
heart attack or asphyxiation from respiratory failure. Less than
lethal exposure can cause any number of conditions lasting anywhere
from moments to causing irreversible damage.
you would guess, the effect of OPs on humans varies according
to the OP compound, the amount and frequency of exposure, and
the existing medical and genetic condition of the person exposed.
Given the wide abilities of OP poisoning and the relevance of
the genetic and medical conditions of the individual exposed,
tracking the effects of OP poisoning can be difficult. Empirical
data suggests OPs, with the right exposure and genetic predisposition,
could be the cause of many diseases of the brain and muscular
system, running the gamut from asthma, cancer, and MS to Gulf
War Syndrome, anorexia, and many food allergies.
Who is at risk
to OP exposure and Where do the risks come from?
now that your eyes are opening wider, you’re seeing the parallels
to the dangers in smoking tobacco. Maybe you are thinking—so
I just won’t “light up,” I’ll avoid the stuff. Think again
Pollyanna! We would be hard pressed to find a person on this planet
who could avoid exposure to OP.
take an apple for example. Typically apples are given 20 applications
of an OP insecticide before they reach your local grocer. Scrub
that apple all you want—your anti-bacterial soap is probably an
OP fungicide, and your water source could be contaminated with
OP run-off or “cleaned” with chlorine, which is an article in
itself. Doesn’t matter anyway because the OP is probably already
resident, to the core in the apple, or grape, or grain, or nut
and, Oh Yeah!, your meat. Animals are sprayed with OP insecticides
too! According to the EPA for the 60 million acres of U.S. agricultural
crops, 60 million pounds of OPs are applied annually.
likely you can find OPs in your living room, bedroom, bathroom,
basement, and garage. Products that keep you and your dog free
of fleas and ticks, your tub free of mildew, your lawn free of
pests that live in the soil, your roses free of mites, and even
many paints that you use on interior walls can contain OPs. The
EPA estimates that 1 million pounds of OPs are used for turf and
ornamental pest control, 4 million for non-agricultural livestock
and pets, and an additional 7 million pounds for residential and
commercial termite and pest control annually. Note though, these
numbers do not account for the OPs in paint, cleaning fluids,
and health and beauty products.
to Pat Thomas, author of Cleaning
Yourself to Death, of the 70,000 chemicals used in toiletries
and cleaning products less than 25% have had a full safety investigation.
In fact, some have ingredients that have been officially classed
as hazardous waste. Citing a survey conducted by the U.S. National
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Thomas states that
of the 2,983 chemicals in personal care products 30% were toxic.
outside your house may not be much better. Golf courses, restaurants,
and supermarkets are often frequent users of OP pesticides. Heck,
even if you use organic alternatives, but your neighbor uses OP
based pesticides the exposure could affect you. Traveling from
one country to another you might even be sprayed on the plane,
as I was when leaving a country in Asia. There is even some talk
about jet fuel having an OP by-product that can get into the recycled
that are most at risk are people exposed to nerve gases, or are
in professions who administer pesticides to large areas frequently
such as farmers, landscapers, and pest control workers, but none
of us are untouched by OP exposure.
that your neurotransmitters are all fired up, you have got to
be thinking like I have been, ‘How the heck could this happen?’
are a monetarily inexpensive and effective way to control pests.
effects of OP exposure on people outside of high-risk jobs have
not been intensively researched, are hard to trace, and the theories
that would call for the elimination of OPs are not widely accepted.
No doubt you have reasoned that for every scientist, doctor and
area expert I have gleaned information from to create this article
and for everyone that would agree with its contents, there is
at least one if not many who hold identical credentials that would
disagree vehemently. But, I can tell you in defense of what you
have read: the State of California enforces a mandatory AChE monitoring
protocol for any person who works in day-to-day contact with carbamates
and OP pesticides, OPs have come under considerable fire in the
U.S. Food and Quality Protection Act, and many if not all OP manufacturers
monitor the blood levels of their OP scientist on a regular basis.
are scientific debates going on every day. Ozone, CFAs, and Arsenic
have become household words, why not organophosphates. Ever heard
of the saying “follow the money?” In this case there is a pretty
significant trail to follow.
me map out what the whistle blowers, most of whom are just finding
their whistles, are saying. Many of the large prescription drug
producing pharmaceutical companies are joined at the hip with
an OP producing agro-chemical company either by partnership or
ownership. Many of our agriculturists, food technicians, and medical
professionals are educated at institutions with significant funding
from pharmaceutical and agro-chemical companies. Many research
facilities and “watch dog” agencies have ties with pharmaceutical
and agro-chemical companies through grants, sponsorships, and
board members. And let’s not forget about lobbyists. One could
look at that and think there is a pretty tight web of back scratching
it is a case of putting out a group of chemicals that do a great
job, while their negative health risks are taking decades to rise
to the surface.
any case, know it’s your turn to help make OP a household name,
start paying more attention to organically grown products and
most importantly vote with your wallet! If South Africa can change
the price of AIDs medications…
you know, I don’t get what part of “derivative of nerve gas that
is lethal in seconds,” we don’t understand.
me your OP story at email@example.com.
K. Sikes is a contributing editor for LiNE Zine and Principal
of Pioneer Technologies,
a consulting company focused on business analysis, project management,
and business development services based in St. Louis, Missouri.
2000-2004 LiNE Zine (www.linezine.com)
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